Retreat of the Coalescent Greenland and Innuitian Ice Sheets from Nares Strait
Friday, 18 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Nares Strait, which forms one of the main connections between the Arctic Ocean and Baffin Bay was blocked by coalescent Innuitian and Greenland ice sheets during the LGM. Nares Strait opened ca. 9000 cal ka BP when the connection between the two ice sheets was finally severed. Our research focuses on the events and processes leading up to the opening of the strait and the response of the glacier and marine systems to establishment of the throughflow. The study at present involves new analysis of two sediment cores: 2001LSSL-163PC from Smith Sound, at the southern end of Nares Strait, and 2001LSSL-079PC from the mouth of Petermann Fjord at the northern end of the strait. X-radiography and core photographs were studied to establish basic lithofacies and stratigraphy. Foraminiferal faunas provide insight into changes in ice margin proximity, Atlantic Water advection and sea-ice conditions and are used to develop the radiocarbon chronologies. Quantitative X-ray diffraction analysis of bulk sediments aids in determining sediment provenance and the establishment of a north to south connection. Grain size analysis allows sediment processes and sedimentary environments, such as iceberg rafting, current deposition, and sub ice-shelf deposition to be evaluated. A radiocarbon date of >50 kyr was obtained from foraminifera in an overconsolidated, gray diamicton in core 163PC. The diamicton is overlain by a red deglacial sequence of barren laminated sediments followed by gray pebbly mud. Two radiocarbon dates submitted from near the base of the pebbly mud constrain the timing of ice retreat from Smith Sound. The chronology of core 079PC indicates that it captures the opening of Nares Strait, but 4 submitted radiocarbon dates will further constrain its chronology. The goal of the work on these two cores is to lay a framework for extensive marine fieldwork to study ice sheet-ocean interactions in the Petermann Glacier in late summer 2015.